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Borrell: Lebanon's Crisis Caused by Feud Over Power

Borrell: Lebanon's Crisis Caused by Feud Over Power

Sunday, 20 June, 2021 - 15:15
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell meets with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda, Lebanon June 19, 2021. Dalati Nohra/Handout via REUTERS

The European Union's foreign policy chief said on Sunday a fight among Lebanese leaders to secure power is at the heart of its government crisis, warning that the “ship will sink” without a “captain.”

"It is clear it's a fight for the distribution of power,” Josep Borrell said about the cabinet deadlock.

“I have to say there is also strong mistrust," he told a group of reporters before leaving Beirut.

Borrell said he delivered a frank message that some leaders could face sanctions if they continued to block steps to form a new government and implement badly needed reforms.

"The country is in big financial trouble and in order to solve the economic crisis they need a government," he said. "A ship in the middle of a storm, needs a captain, needs a crew for the system to work ... If not the ship will sink."

Speaking after talks with President Michel Aoun, Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri and House Speaker Nabih Berri, Borrell said Lebanon needed a government with technical capacity and real authority to avoid the failure of the outgoing government of Hassan Diab, which he said presented a sound financial reform plan that was blocked by politicians.

Lebanon's currency has lost 90% of its value. More than half the population are living in poverty while grappling with raging inflation, power blackouts and shortages of fuel and food.

The crisis has been aggravated by political deadlock, with Hariri at loggerheads with Aoun for months over forming a new government.

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